Back in the busy streets of Delhi. The contrast is huge.
The past ten days have been Job Shadowing India-style! As visitors of Abhijeed we tried to experience his mental world, his vision of the world. We have been learning a bit about the most common and important teaching of almost every belief system and religion: Know Thyself!
We know now that meditation is hard work and we are tired. These days we prepare for the next part of the job shadowing; Abhi will take us on a trip to Bodh Gaya, the place where the Buddha found his enlightenment!
The next days will turn out to be different, but not only because the landscape and the people change around us. The world looks different because our senses are sharper, and we feel less distracted by things like the news, telephones and e-mails. It has become much easier to keep our attention in the here and now.
This helps during the train ride to Bodh Gaya. The size of this country alone is humbling, it is a long day trip just to get yourself to what seems to be the next town on the map.
We return to Abhijeetshome town, Gaya. We travel ‘AC2’, the class with 6 beds and – bliss! – air conditioning. In the past two weeks things became hot in India. Over 40 degrees Celsius means a deviation of about 30 degrees of what we’re used to at home. The air is hotter than our bodies and sweating is all you can do to keep yourself alive. Next to that, the non-AC trains are, you already guess: crowded. But: really crowded. Crowded like the train station, where on each square meter people sleep, wait, sit, eat, or just hang on the floor. Dogs and beggars creep up between us. A man with tiny legs can’t walk and crawls around the platform, asking for money or some food occasionally. But our day train is safe and not too crowded. We manage to watch a film about the life of Ghandi. That is perfect, especially when the movie shows how Ghandi travels all of India by train, before embarking on his non-violent resistance.
Slowly we are starting to understand a little better what it has meant, losing the English occupation of the country. It makes the train ride all the more beautiful.
Bodh Gaya is the place where the Buddha reached Enlightenment.
Abhijeet obviously knows his way around here. Not only regarding meditation; we also sleep at a hotel owned by one of his old friends. We feel very welcome.
These days feel like a tourist trip; we visit the tree where Buddha sat, and numerous temples. We will travel by car to see the oldest university in the world. It is spectacular,the pictures don’t do this place justice.
Abhi is fantastic; he shows us everything he feels we must know and see in India; or that is, everything that fits in the limited amount of time we have. We make plans for the future. On the last day we meet with Abhi’s father. On returning to Delhi, we also feel we have changed in some way fundamentally. Whether it is India, the meditation, or both seems irrelevant. We have learned a lot about India, and in the process also have learned a lot about ourselves.
Then… India also starts to make us sick. At some point, each and every traveller gets the notorious ‘Delhi Belly’, when the toilet becomes your best friend and you just feel weak, trying to avoid dehydration. No different for us. The beautiful landscape, the Ganges, everything starts to feel somewhat blurry.
After one more day in Delhi with Abhi, he drives us to the airport. We are all happy, as both his films have been admitted to the Cannes festival. Perhaps we can meet again in May? At least we’ll see each other again in September. It makes the farewell a bit easier.
Our minds feel like staying, but for now, our bellies like the idea of returning to a country that’s a bit easier on the stomach. A country not unlike the Tomb of Emperor Humayan, with neat square fields, a flat landscape and lots of water. Exhausted, but happy and a little bit more enlightened we fly back to the Netherlands.